Monday, 22 June 2009


they mourn the voice of Iran
but I heard only silence broken
by anguished screams embracing you
as final pumps pushed red horror
from nose and mouth

Neda, unrushed and acquiescing
you seemed to accept your fate
until your eyes revolting
shot upwards to stare
in terminal complaint

You were courageous and beautiful to the end.

Neda Soltani ( Persian: ندا سلطانی ; born 1982, died 20 June 2009; age 26–27)

calling from here: Tokyo Station: Maronouchi Exit '03

calling from here: Tokyo Station: Maronouchi Exit '03

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Thanks to Roxanne Ivey for the poem left as a comment in the previous post.


For every secret sealed in flame,
Each grief engraved without a name,
I'll summon tender truths from shame,
With tears my talisman.

I'll shred the shroud of disbelief
And scatter ashes of relief,
Then weave these words into a wreath
No season can upbraid.

I'll lift the earth into the sky
So fallen stars again will rise;
Your suffering is my battle cry--
You did not die alone.

Friday, 19 June 2009

The dirt and dust of poetic insult

"The nation's huge river would not leave any opportunity
for the expression of dirt and dust"

In a nation where poetry is a venerable and much-loved form of expression, it was no suprise that the defensive Ahmadinejad would produce a stanza of note. But the bitter poet then let his guard slip by accusing his opponents of "officially recognising thieves, homosexuals and scumbags" in exchange for their vote. Poetry evaporates, ephemeral in the mind of a bigot.

Iranians chose to ignore Ahmadinejad's baser insults to appropriate instead his poetic slur, "dirt and dust." The label has returned as a slogan to haunt the errant poet-bigot. It is now the rallying cry of protesters, who wear and chant the term with a potent mix of anger and pride. "Dirt and dust is you who are the enemy of Iran" is one chant heard on the streets, and the reformist newspaper Etemad-e Melli carried a picture of a huge banner carried by protesters:


The supreme leader is due to address the nation at Friday prayers this morning. As a man renowned for his love of poetry, it will be fascinating to see how he responds to this epic poetic struggle.

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